Sunday, December 16, 2007

It's That Time Again!

Time to learn the day's lesson from the Wheel of Morality? Er, not exactly. It's the Christmas shopping season. You've kept your spending in check all year by avoiding shopping all together. But now you venture to the stores to get gifts for others.

While trying to think about what your friends and family would want, you see everything you'd forgotten you wanted. On sale. Sometimes, you can buy it for a friend with a mutual interest, thus fulfilling your need for a present and your need to buy what you want. You still won't have it (unless you find something else that's better for that person, then maybe you'll keep it ;)), but so far you've managed to use your impulse buying constructively.

However, the more time you spend in the store, the more things you see. Oooh! I want that! Oh, I didn't know that was out yet! Hey, this is the new one! I've heard good things...

You force yourself to step back. You look at your list again. One person down, and you have four things in your hand. You put the three that were for you back and take a deep breath. Wait until the season is over. There needs to be things left on your wish list by the end of this shopping trip so that other people will know what to get you. If you don't get it, well, buy it in February when you should have seen everyone who will get you something.

You manage to find gifts for several people on your list, then move on to the next store. Here, the temptation is more serious. You see something you've been meaning to buy - something you actually need and that no one will get for you for Christmas because no one knows you need it or it's the kind of thing you need to get a feel for before you know it meets your needs or the item is just a tad outside most people's present budget. You decide that if you don't get it now, you might not be able to find it when you go looking for it, so you gather it into your arms, then grab a random inexpensive present for someone who wasn't even on your list just to justify having come into the store in the first place.

At the end of day one, you've managed to get presents for only a few people and you do not look forward to facing temptation again. So you turn to online shopping. You can update your wish list with all the things you didn't buy that day and then get some more expensive presents at lower prices. But when you go to update your wish list, you see that something you've been waiting over a year to buy is on sale. You regretted not buying it the last time the price went that low, and it's been on your list for long enough that if someone was going to get it for you, they would have, so you click "add to cart" and go browsing for more presents.

But at the end of the day, there are still people on your list. Sure, you managed to knock a couple of more people off, but now you have to return something because you found a better price online, which means you have to venture to the brick-and-mortars again anyway, so you might as well make tomorrow round two.

You manage to return the item you found a better price for without making additional purchases at the store. But then you find a nice little non-chain store that you hadn't known about before that turns out to have lots of things you didn't even know you could buy anymore. Things you've been looking for for years. Things your friends already have but you don't. You grab one item, knowing perfectly well it's for you. They're low on something else, so you grab the last ones for friends. Your basket fills. Your list gets smaller.

At the end of day two, you're down to the peripherals of your list. One or two people that you usually get something small, plus a gift exchange party or two. The "small gift" people you might not see until after the holiday, so you decide to hold off until post-holiday sales. For the gift exchanges, you consider riffling through your DVD collection for stuff you don't watch anymore. You wonder if the duplicate magnetic poetry set you have is under the price floor. Finally, however, you decide to grab something while you're getting food to prepare for various holiday potlucks.

The grocery store doesn't exactly have the best selection of presents, so you grab a few random holiday items that add up to the price minimum and throw them in a stocking. Voila! Instant generic present. While you're at it, you buy some candy for yourself to eat, insisting that you'll share it a work. If you don't go through the whole bag tonight by yourself.

By the end of the week, your shopping is done. You refuse to add up the receipts because you want to live in denial just a little while longer, at least until after the New Year, when you'll resolve to spend less, eat less, and exercise more. Lather, rinse, repeat.

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Blogger Diana said...

What you do is ask for your Christmas money early. That way it's really a present from dad (or whoever), when you buy yourself something. Also, I recommend just not adding the Christmas receipts up. All you're going to do is depress yourself with the number that you get. Where's the holiday spirit in that?!

12/28/2007 10:36 AM  

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